Simple Tips for Email Inbox Organization

Subfolders in My Email Inbox

Every morning the email piles into my inbox. One of my first tasks is going through everything, figuring out what’s important, and what to delete. I thought I’d share with you some of my techniques, as they may help you tame your own email beast.

  • I use Outlook. This helps a great deal with the tasks I’m sharing with you today. I know there are many tools out there that work. This is just the one I’m most comfortable with.
  • I set up subfolders for different projects. When I come upon an email for a project that I may have to refer to again, I put it into the subfolder for that project. This saves so much time that would otherwise be spent searching when I have to find it again.
  • I import all my email accounts into Outlook, but have it delivered into different folders. This helps me sort between business and personal mail without having to log into different systems (a timesaver!)
  • I set up rules and folders for email subscriptions. I subscribe to a number of business and food blogs, but these are different types of reading for me, and I don’t do them at the same time. So I’ve set up sub-folders in my inbox for each type of subscription. Then, I set up a rule in Outlook, so when messages from those sites come in, they are automatically delivered to the appropriate folder. When I’m ready to read them, I simply click over to that folder. By using this process, they are no longer part of my morning email sort, and are instead pre-sorted for me.
  • I use flags during my morning sort. As I read through, I flag those items that require action. Rather than taking that action immediately, and then coming back to my email for the next task, I simply flag each item initially. Then, I sort my view of my inbox so that all flagged items appear on top. This allows me to work through all items after the initial sort. Outlook even allows you to prioritize your flags by choosing different colors. So first priority items could be red, next priority yellow, and so on. Once I complete a task, I click the flag again and it disappears from the flagged list.

By using these simple systems, I save myself time in the morning, and can instead focus on the tasks that are most important to my day.

How do you manage your inbox? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.

11 Responses to Simple Tips for Email Inbox Organization
  1. how to outlook
    July 22, 2011 | 2:54 pm

    Hey, great guide! If you’re like most people in the business world who get a ton of emails daily, sometimes to different accounts, keeping your inbox clean is essential! Thanks for the tips!
    how to outlook recently posted..Wave Those Flags!

  2. ThirtyOneKahne
    March 17, 2011 | 1:06 am

    Thank you! I have used Outlook for years….but failed to really learn the capabilities of it. I have all my various email accounts coming into my one “Inbox”, but did not know you could have them auto-delivered to separate folders. I will have to search out the info on doing this! With a team as large as I have, I have 60+ emails a day to go through…… So you have no idea how helpful this post was to me! 🙂 Thank yoU!!!!
    ThirtyOneKahne recently posted..My Thirty One Gifts Story

    • Jennifer Fong
      March 17, 2011 | 10:48 am

      So glad it was helpful!

  3. Bernice Caruth
    March 11, 2011 | 12:58 pm

    When my last computer crashed, I decided to have more information in the “clouds” so switched to Windows Live for my emails. Now I can read those emails from anywhere, and if my system crashes I won’t lose the emails and contact information. I’ve established all of my contact and calendar information in Windows Live, i.e. phone, address, birthday, anniversary, etc of customers and friends so I won’t lose that information either. Windows Live allows for subfolders. There are some limitations, such as size of the email windows, and I paid to opt out of the advertising displays ($19.95 annually). While Outlook has more features, overall, Windows Live is working well for me.

    • Jennifer Fong
      March 11, 2011 | 1:05 pm

      Sounds like a great option Bernice!

  4. Belinda
    March 11, 2011 | 12:07 pm

    Jen –

    Thank you for this very helpful post. Like Julie above, I have been using Windows Live Mail for years, because it leaves the emails in my online box and if I am away from my computer, I can still retrieve an email I saved. I was not aware that I could use rules in WLM though – something new to learn!

    I also agree with Julie – I would love to learn more “administrative” tips from you!

    Thank you again!

  5. Terry Rabe
    March 11, 2011 | 11:36 am

    Hi Jen,
    I too love being ultra organized and efficient. Since I use Yahoo, unfortunately they do not have an option for subfolders. So I ultimately have 106 folders for email, all in a line. Yikes! Subfolders would make my life so much easier. :o)
    ~Terry

  6. Julie H
    March 11, 2011 | 8:17 am

    Hi Jennifer
    I’ve been using Window Mail for years at home and find it very similar to Outlook in the key features that I use (receiving mail for all my business & personal accounts, organizing email into folders, using message rules, managing Contacts, etc). Very similar to what you do. There is a connection to Windows Calendar there too but I don’t use this feature (I coordinate my calendars (family stuff, vs volunteer vs. business) using Google Calendar because then I can easily share them with hubby (who shares his work calendar there with me).
    Great tips today (as usual), would love to see more “administrative” tips from you in the future.
    Julie

  7. Maureen Feist
    March 10, 2011 | 11:46 am

    I recently started setting up more folders in my Outlook, but love how you’ve directed them where to go by the rules you’ve set up. This is going to streamline my morning even more! Thanks for the great tips!

    • Jennifer Fong
      March 10, 2011 | 11:57 am

      Glad it helps Maureen!

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